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THON Director Thursday: Meet R&R Volunteer Safety Director Tim Miller

Name: Tim Miller

Major: Aerospace Engineering

Past THON Experience:

THON 2015 – Rules & Regulations Volunteer Safety Committee Member
THON 2016 – Rules & Regulations Volunteer Safety Committee: Fundraising Safety Captain
THON 2017 – Rules & Regulations Volunteer Safety: Committee Fundraising Coordinator
THON 2018 – Rules & Regulations Volunteer Safety Director

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself:

Though I’m majoring in aerospace engineering, I will likely pursue a career in fundraising for colleges and universities after graduation.

What made you want to apply for the Volunteer Safety Director position for THON 2018?

In my prior involvement, I was blessed to follow in the leadership of multiple inspiring members of the THON community, who have been and always will be both close friends and mentors of mine. Because of their guidance, I’m a completely different person than when I arrived at Penn State, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. Realizing the impact those leaders had on me, I was motivated by the opportunity to make as large of an impact as I can on the Penn State and THON community, and the Volunteer Safety Director has the ability to do just that in a very large capacity. I’m able to impact countless members of the THON community in this role, so when considering applying, I just wanted is to leave everyone else better off because of what I’ve done as the Volunteer Safety Director in the same way I’ve been left better off by those before me.

What are your responsibilities as the Volunteer Safety Director?

The Volunteer Safety Committee oversees the facilitation of DonorDrive, Alternative Fundraising, Canvassing, and Donation Boxes, most of THON’s volunteer-based fundraising opportunities, but the Volunteer Safety Captains handle the day-to-day responsibilities required to make that possible. In my role specifically, I work to guide each of the Captains in making these fundraising methods as successful as possible while upholding the safety and integrity of all THON fundraising. I communicate across Committees, assist THON Organizations, and work with professional contacts to develop and distribute new tools and strategies to make THON’s volunteer-based fundraising model as effective as possible in alleviating all financial concerns for Four Diamonds families, driving cancer research forward, and supporting high-end patient care at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past?

With the THON 2017 Executive Committee’s decision to adopt THON’s new fundraising platform, DonorDrive, the Volunteer Safety Committee was selected to oversee its implementation and administration, which has been the focus of my position and differs greatly from years past. Bringing THON’s fundraising model into the 21st century, establishing a national fundraising presence, and empowering each of THON’s 16,500 volunteers is a fundamental change to our fundraising model that will reshape THON’s fundraising for years to come. Sometimes I can’t believe I have the opportunity to guide that! Beyond that, I hope to connect the Volunteer Safety Committee more directly with Organizations so that we can use new and exciting fundraising tools to advise THON Chairs in most effective fundraising practices. New fundraising technologies focused around data will greatly improve our ability to make suggestions to them, and I hope we can create more of those conversations.

What makes the Volunteer Safety committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

THON Organizations each have each of their specialties and strengths when it comes to fundraising, and we continue to see growth in avenues we could have never anticipated. So, as our role of assisting them in fundraising grows, the Captains and I really enjoy seeing how the success of specific groups can be applied to the success of others. We get such a very holistic view on THON’s fundraising model, so we can look at the work one single group is doing or watch holistic trends in a particular fundraising method, make concrete recommendations from them, and say to an Organization that they should try specific techniques to be more successful. We have powerful data and feedback that we’re able to use for the benefit of the entire THON community, and it’s really fun to see how the conclusions we can make creates significance differences in the success of the entire THON community.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2018?

The theme for the THON 2018 Volunteer Safety Committee is “Spark the Vision”, and I think that phrase encapsulates exactly what we aim to do with the opportunities we’ve all been given. In the years prior to the Volunteer Safety Committee’s now fourth year of existence, there’s been a long-established vision of what it could and should become in quite a lot of areas, and, when I was selected last spring, I decided it was time we stop looking at that vision as something far away. Large fundamental changes to this Committee have allowed us to make substantial internal adjustments, and this year we hope to capitalize on those changes to refocus this Committee into these new roles and responsibilities. Each of the Captains also have a vision for their impact on THON, and I want to ensure they all leave their roles with the satisfaction of completing what they set out to do, sparking their vision.

Why do you THON?

I THON for a day when no family will have to hear the words “your child has cancer”, in hopes that one day the funds THON raises annually will allow the researchers down in Hershey to create a cure to this terrible disease. I also THON for the THON community, because it’s comprised of the most dedicated, passionate, and inspiring group of volunteers I’ve ever experienced, and I believe in the ability of each and every one of them to do great work for this organization. If the work I do now empowers each of the 16,500 volunteers around the community, my impact will extend far beyond myself, and I hope what I do now can help everyone else leave their desired impact on THON and the Four Diamonds families fighting cancer every day.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

I don’t have one single favorite THON memory; I treasure every experience with THON! It’s been a journey of a lifetime to have the memories and adventures I’ve had in these short four years. THON’s been by far the most rewarding and life-changing aspect of my Penn State journey, so, when I look back on it all, I still don’t know if I’ll be able to pick one singular moment. It’s every small moment strung together that I know I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

I had to consult my girlfriend’s 12-year-old sister. She’s a self-proclaimed dinosaur expert and she told me I’m a quetzalcoatlus. She said it’s because they eat literally anything, and I look like the kind of guy that eats literally anything. I’m not a particularly picky eater, so I guess I can agree!

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a senior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.


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